09TBILISI468, GEORGIA: DESPITE CONCERNS, GEORGIA WILL COOPERATE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI468 2009-03-10 14:54 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO5251
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0468/01 0691454
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 101454Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1149
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0184
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 4798
RUEHUNV/UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 4008

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 000468 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/10/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM MOPS RS GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: DESPITE CONCERNS, GEORGIA WILL COOPERATE 
WITH EU'S INVESTIGATION OF AUGUST WAR 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary.  Senior Georgian officials have raised 
questions about the objectivity of two members of the EU's 
independent investigation of the causes of the August 2008 
war.  They have nevertheless pledged their continued support 
for and full cooperation with the commission's work.  Swiss 
diplomatHeidi Tagliavini, who is leading the investigation, 
acknowledged to the Ambassador the Georgian concerns, but 
indicated she would take care to ensure the final report is 
fair and focused on lessons to be learned from the conflict, 
not political declarations.  The next step is for the 
investigators to distribute questionnaires to principal 
officials.  The report is due on July 31, although Tagliavini 
indicated that she might need to seek an extension.  End 
summary. 
 
2. (U) Heidi Tagliavini, who served as the Special 
Representative of the UN Secretary General to Georgia in 
2002-06 (i.e., head of UNOMIG), was named by the EU in 
November 2008 to head a special commission charged with 
investigating the origins of the August 2008 war between 
Georgia and Russia, called the "Independent International 
Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia" (IIFFMCG). 
The group is led by Tagliavini and two others, Interim Head 
Uwe Schramm and Deputy Head Marian Staszewski, and includes a 
panel of a half-dozen experts.  As part of the IIFFMCG's 
work, Tagliavini traveled to Georgia March 1-10 with several 
members of her team and met with officials in Tbilisi, 
Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, as well as the Ambassador. 
 
3. (C) In the context of Tagliavini's visit, Foreign Minister 
Vashadze and Interior Minister Merabishvili both expressed 
concerns to the Ambassador and other Embassy officials that 
two members of Tagliavini's panel of experts had shown 
significant bias against Georgia in their independent 
writings.  In particular, former British military officer 
Col. Christopher Langton, who served as deputy UNOMIG chief, 
published an article entitled "Georgia's Dream is Shattered, 
but It Only Has Itself to Blame" on August 13, 2008 in the 
United Arab Emirates publication "The National."  Likewise, 
Otto Luchterhandt, lawyer and professor at Hamburg 
University, wrote an article entitled "International-legal 
aspects of the 'Georgian War'," also in 2008, apparently in 
Russian.  (Both documents have been emailed to EUR/CARC.) 
 
4. (C)  According to the Georgian officials, these articles 
-- written before either Langton or Luchterhandt was invited 
to participate as experts in the IIFFMCG -- show that both 
individuals entered into their work as investigators with 
already formed conclusions about what happened in August. 
Merabishvili added that both Langton and Luchterhandt were 
expressly pro-Russian and anti-Georgian.  He and Vashadze 
both saw the inclusion of these experts as evidence that the 
investigation itself was designed by German Foreign Minister 
Steinmeier, who reportedly first proposed the idea (and whom 
they assume to be pro-Russian and anti-Georgian as well), as 
a means of casting Georgia in a bad light.  The Georgians had 
proposed alternate experts, whom they saw as more balanced in 
their perspectives, including Svante Cornell of Johns Hopkins 
University, but claimed that their nominations were not 
QUniversity, but claimed that their nominations were not 
accepted.  Reintegration Minister Yakobashvili raised similar 
concerns in the press in February; although he did not name 
Langton and Luchterhandt specifically, the press did note the 
same two articles raised by Vashadze and Merabishvili. 
 
5. (C) Despite their concerns, both Vashadze and Merabishvili 
reiterated to the Ambassador that Georgia still supported the 
work of the IIFFMCG and would cooperate fully with the 
investigation. 
 
6. (C) In a conversation with the Ambassador, Tagliavini 
acknowledged the concerns expressed by the Georgians. 
Although she did not admit that any members of her team had a 
particular bias, she took pains to assure the Ambassador that 
the IIFFMCG's final product would be her (and not her 
experts') report, and that she would take full responsibility 
to ensure the final product was fair.  She also said she 
intended to avoid producing a political document, but would 
instead focus on lessons to be learned from the war.  In 
terms of process, she explained that the next step was for 
investigators to distribute questionnaires to key decision 
makers in Georgia.  The due date for the IIFFMCG's final 
report is July 31, but Tagliavini said she might need to 
request an extension. 
 
 
TBILISI 00000468  002 OF 002 
 
 
COMMENT: Tagliavini's Good -- and So Is Cooperation 
 
7. (C) It is difficult to judge the perspective of an 
individual from a short essay.  It is true that Langton and 
Luchterhandt level serious criticisms of Georgia in the 
pieces supplied by the Georgian government.  At the same 
time, both also make serious allegations concerning the 
Russians.  Although they may have an inherent bias against 
Georgia, it is possible they might have written the pieces 
based on incomplete knowledge of the situation -- knowledge 
that will presumably be improved considerably by the work of 
the IIFFMCG.  In any case, Tagliavini is an experienced, 
knowledgeable and balanced observer of Georgia, and post 
believes she will make a sincere effort to ensure that the 
investigation's final product avoids privileging either side. 
 More importantly, in terms of Georgia's international 
standing, the possible biases of two members of a larger 
panel of experts pale in comparison to Georgia's overall 
willingness to be cooperative and transparent with the 
international community.  The government seems to realize 
this, and we believe it will indeed follow the pattern of 
cooperation it has established with the Amnesty 
International, Human Rights Watch and others. 
TEFFT

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